Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Perhentian Report - Day 5 and 6

Day 5 and 6 (6th - 7th May 2009) - Kuala Lumpur

It has been 9 years since I last stepped foot in KL. Then, I attended the SAP2000 Summit. The monorail, LRT, RapidKL and many others have not made their appearance yet. At that time, there were not many shopping malls around. Lot 10, Sungai Wang Plaza, Bukit Bintang Bintang Plaza, The Mall were however there then. There were no Lowyat, no Berjaya Times Square, etc. So, this visit was like a country bumpkin visiting the city for the first time. However, my two friends stayed in KL for a number of years so they were quite familiar with the city. They became my guides.

On 6th May, we arrived in KL from Kota Bharu. We took the bus from LCCT bus terminal to KL Sentral, before taking a monorail to Bukit Bintang monorail station.

We checked in at Hotel Agora at Bukit Bintang Road. The room rate was RM118 for a double room. The third friend has a sister and two brothers in KL, so he did not join us at the hotel.

That evening, we had our dinner at Jalan Alor. We have been told that food here cost more than elsewhere. We did not have much choice as this was the nearest place on foot. As we would be staying for one night only, the higher price would not make a dent in our budget. The whole stretch of the road was surveyed. What surprised me was the number of stalls being manned by whom I believed to be Burmese/ Myanmarese. There was even writing in Burmese at the next stall where we ate.

Beside my own "pan mee", my friend ordered other fare to be shared. They were surprisingly not that good. Most failed my taste bud. For example, the Penang char kuey tiau did not taste like the real thing you find in Penang. Neither did the "orr chien" (oyster omelette). Maybe, I am not used to KL imitation food.

After dinner, we strolled to Berjaya Times Square, walking around aimlessly before deciding to return to our hotel. Not wanting to waste time at the hotel, we decided to go out again half an hour later, to walk around the whole Bukit Bintang area. During the stroll, we were solicited many times at different locations by masseurs. According to my friend, those in uniform were legitimate masseurs while those sitting there waiting for clients were likely China dolls or other dolls waiting to please your manhood for a tidy sum of money. Competition for this business must be great. By the time we finished our round past 11:00 p.m, my legs were aching badly already. We hardly stopped walking since our dinner at 7:30 p.m.

The next day, 7th May 2009, we woke up early to look for breakfast. Our breakfast search started at about 8:00 a.m. There were some Malay stalls selling breakfast, but we could not find any Chinese food stalls, until about half an hour later. That was the longest search for a meal I ever had. In Sarawak, and in particular Sibu, Chinese food stalls were everywhere.

At the particular shop where we found our breakfast, the chef was still preparing the side dishes for the rice gruel. Noodles and steamed buns were however available. I have always been a great fan of Chinese big pau. So, I had two of these big pau, at RM2.80 per piece.

By the time we returned to the hotel just before 10:00 a.m., the shopping complexes were still not opened for business yet. At this time, our third friend rejoined us. After a short wait, we went to Lowyat Plaza where I bought an external DVD writer and an 8 GB thumb drive. It was here the sms from Airasia came, telling us that our flight home to Sibu has been postponed to 7:50 p.m.

From Lowyat Plaza, we went to Sungai Wang food court at the top floor for lunch. I did not take my lunch then as I was still full. Anyway, we would be coming back here again at 3:00 p.m. for an early dinner before departing for LCCT airport.

After lunch, we returned to the hotel to pack and check out. Our bags were deposited at the hotel lobby before we went out again. We went to KLCC first, by taxi. At KLCC Kinokuniya bookstore, I bought an Indonesian-English dictionary, which I have been searching but could not find in Sibu.

The return trip to the hotel was an experience for me and the family of four, country bumpkin like me, riding on a public transport system. I believed that many KLites with their own vehicles have never experienced this, too. From the KLCC RapidKL LRT train station, we took a train to Dang Wangi Interchange.

From the Dang Wangi RapidKL LRT train station, we took a 5 minutes' walk to the KL Monorail Bukit Nanas station.

And from Bukit Nanas monorail station, we returned to Bukit Bintang monorail station. As all country bumpkins do, we have to embarrass ourselves, otherwise, we are not country bumpkins. In the process of the trip, the country bumpkins (not me) were stuck at the turnstile twice, unable to walk through, at two stations. Once, a guard there let them through another turnstile and during the second time, they resorted to squeezing through the turnstile (luckily, no guards saw them and there was no queue behind them). They failed to learn from the first mistake. Didn't they know how to use the turnstile? What an embarrassment. This would only confirm some Sibuian as country bumpkins.

After returning to Bukit Bintang, we strolled for a while at Sungai Wang Plaza, had an early dinner at the Sungai Wang food court, before going back to collect our bags at the hotel lobby. Then, we took the monorail to KL Sentral and took a bus there to LCCT airport.

Our plane did not arrive on scheduled and we only took off for Sibu at about 9:00 p.m.

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